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Traffic Stop – Lane Violation

State v. Kevin A. Rhyne, No. 2009AP163, District 4, 7/29/10

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); pro se; Resp. Br.

¶7        “An officer may conduct a traffic stop when he or she has probable cause to believe a traffic violation has occurred.” State v. Popke, 2009 WI 37, ¶13, 317 Wis. 2d 118, 765 N.W.2d 569 (citing State v. Gaulrapp, 207 Wis. 2d 600, 605, 558 N.W.2d 696 (Ct. App. 1996)). Here, Rhyne did not contest the officer’s assertion at trial that he drove straight through the marked left turn only lane. Rhyne even states in his brief that he “attempted to go straight from the left lane.” Rhyne’s driving was in violation of Wis. Stat. § 346.31(1), which provides that, where markers or signs direct traffic at an intersection to follow a particular course, “the operator of a vehicle turning at such intersection shall comply with such directions.” Accordingly, we conclude that the stop was valid, and thus reject Rhyne’s suggestion that the evidence used to prove the OWI probable cause element of the refusal charge should have been suppressed.[3]

This was a refusal prosecution, § 343.305(9), one element of which is probable cause to believe the person was operating under the influence, ¶4. The court notes that is a novel question “whether evidence gathered pursuant to an illegal stop may be used to prove the OWI probable cause element”; but the stop was proper so the question needn’t be reached, ¶6.

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